Shadow:Satan's Fury: Memphis Chapter(6)

By: L. Wilder


At first, I found his little routine intriguing, especially with his peculiar behavior, but over time, I’d started to look forward to him showing up, and this morning was no different. As soon as I had everything ready to start the day, I went over to unlock the door. I quickly glanced out the window, and butterflies rose to my stomach when I spotted him getting off his Harley. I silently cursed myself for having such an instant reaction to a man who rarely even spoke to me. There were times when I’d try to strike up a conversation, but quickly realized that small talk wasn’t my strong suit. I’d ask him random questions, hoping that it would trigger a lengthy response, but I never got much out of him other than one word answers. I didn’t exactly mind it. With each answer, he’d reveal a little more about himself, making me curious to know even more. I unlocked the door, flipped over the Open sign, and rushed to the front counter, trying to look like I was busy working on an order. When he walked in, I glanced up and my throat suddenly became dry when I saw how good he looked in his tight-fitted t-shirt and faded jeans. His gorgeous eyes skirted over to me when I smiled and said, “Morning!”

With little expression, he replied, “Morning.”

He walked over to the side table and made himself a cup of coffee. Once he was done, he glanced back over to me before making his way to his spot on the sofa. I let him be as he skimmed through his book of the day, and I tried to focus on the few customers who filtered in, answering their questions about a particular book or author. I tried my best to ignore him entirely, but every so often, I’d find myself sneaking peeks over in that corner. I just couldn’t help myself. I knew so little about the man who spent his mornings with me, and he wasn’t exactly forthcoming about why he was there. My mind was still drifting when he came up and tossed a twenty-dollar bill on the counter. I wasn’t surprised by his actions. It was something he did every time he came into the store. Normally, I’d just leave it alone, but something compelled me to say, “You know … you don’t have to do that.”

My breath caught when he stopped and turned to look at me with those beautiful blue eyes. “And what if I want to?”

He was standing right in front of me, just a few feet away, and suddenly I couldn’t form a complete thought. I’d been around handsome men before, plenty of them, but never had I been so close to a man like him—the kind who inspired romance writers in the thick of the night. My eyes dropped to his chiseled jaw and full lips, and all I could do was just stand there stammering like an idiot. To make matters worse, he shifted his stance so that the oscillating fan blew on him in just the right direction, sending his scent spiraling towards me. Damn. Why did I have to go and open my big mouth?





Shadow





There were days when I’d feel everything, and then there were days I felt completely numb. Those were the days I liked best. I didn’t want to feel. I wanted no pain. No regret. No misguided hope. Nothing at all. I’d spent years trying to find something that would help me do just that. I’d tried alcohol, drugs, women, and even therapy, but only because my commanding officer demanded it. I’d been imprisoned during my time in Afghanistan, and knowing what that shit can do to a man, he thought it would help with any issues I might have with PTSD. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. The counselor tried everything he could to get through to me, but I just wasn’t ready to deal with the shit-storm that was raging inside my head, and there was nothing he could do or say to change that.

I decided to ignore what was happening to me, hoping that eventually it would all just go away. That didn’t happen. The dreams had gotten worse, and the dull ache in my chest only grew more intense. I was fighting a losing battle until I happened to stroll into a small bookstore on the corner of Broad and Second. The minute I’d walked through the door, an odd feeling washed over me, and I was taken back by the strange sensation as I’d stood there looking around. It was like I’d stepped into another world—a world where all my bitterness and regret no longer clung to me, and for just a moment, I could simply let go and breathe.

I don’t know why it had such an effect on me, maybe it reminded me of my home—my real home—where I’d always felt safe and at peace and loved and protected. I hadn’t felt that way since my family was taken from me. While the bookstore didn’t give me that exact same feeling, it was close. It felt so comfortable, so easy. There was never any fuss. I’d walk in and make myself a cup of coffee, then grab a book and find my way over to the sofa in the back of the store. It was quiet, but not too quiet. As I flipped through the pages of my book, I would hear movement at the front of the store, people whispering as they picked out a book, or the sound of the register after a purchase, and it set me at ease. In the beginning, that feeling was what brought me back here, but everything changed the moment the bookstore’s beautiful Latina owner, Alex Carpenter, caught my eye. Whereas in the past, I’d gone there looking for a place to take a breath and maybe find some possible insights to my fucked-up head, I’d suddenly found myself popping in regularly just to catch another glimpse of her.

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